Tourism Minister threatens to cancel travel stimulus if only some operators benefit

PHOTO: Flickr/Ian Fuller

Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister says if all operators cannot benefit from a domestic travel stimulus scheme, it may be cancelled. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says he will meet with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to ensure everyone in the sector can be helped by the scheme.

According to the Bangkok Post, the government plans to launch the Tour Teaw Thai scheme in August. The scheme offers a 40% subsidy to 1 million domestic tourists, on packages priced at up to 5,000 baht. However, Wasuchet Sophonsathien from the Thai Transportation Operators Association points out that many people will choose air travel over tour buses. His association has called on the Tourism Ministry to help its members prepare for Thailand’s re-opening.

According to Wasuchet, tour bus operators are unlikely to reap rewards from the scheme as the demand for air travel means buses are likely to only be used for short distances. Operators are requesting at least 25,000 of the 1 million trips covered, based on bus capacity of 40 seats. Wasuchet says his association is also calling for financial aid of 840 million baht from the scheme’s budget of 5 billion baht.

“Roughly 10,000 vehicles out of 30,000 – 40,000 buses in service are ready to serve tourists in the next few months, but operators need financial support to keep the vehicles in good condition.”

According to Wasuchet, it costs around 200,000 baht per vehicle to maintain the buses according to the safety standards laid down by the Department of Transport. He says the government can help operators by using the Road Safety Fund for special maintenance projects. He points out that this support is regularly available for the “7 Dangerous Days” during holiday periods and helps operators prepare vehicles for domestic holiday travel.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

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